Chandra X-ray and VLA radio image of Abell 400
Credit:NASA/CXC/AIfA/D.Hudson & T.Reiprich et al.; Radio: NRAO/VLA/NRL

Binary Black Hole Contrails

The above image shows an unusual sight - two large radio jets emanating from 2 closeby supermassive black holes, all immersed in a huge cloud of hot, X-ray emitting gas. The black holes are shown in the inset image from the Chandra X-ray observatory as two bright distinct X-ray sources, while the radio jets presumably arise from the accretion disk surrounding these black holes. The jets are swept back by the pressure of the intragalactic medium as the galaxies which host the black holes move through space. Astronomers believe these two black holes form a gravitationally bound system - and at some point perhaps will merge, forming a single supermassive black hole and producing strong ripples in spacetime. Astronomers wonder - will these ripples ever be seen?

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Each week the HEASARC brings you new, exciting and beautiful images from X-ray and Gamma ray astronomy. Check back each week and be sure to check out the HEAPOW archive!

Page Author: Dr. Michael F. Corcoran
Last modified Friday, 20-Apr-2012 15:23:11 EDT